Researchers investigate discrimination experiences of MU students, parent-child communications in low income families

The IDE Excellence Grant was awarded in December to nine projects.

In December, the Division of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity announced the 2019-2020 IDE Excellence Grant recipients. Since then, faculty and students have been working on nine different projects chosen to receive the grant.

According to the Division of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity’s website, the grant’s purpose is to fund students and faculty “to creatively strengthen research with inclusion, diversity, and/or equity implications,” and to fund faculty and staff to strengthen teaching practices for the same goals of inclusion, diversity and equity.

Gustavo Carlo, Millsap professor of diversity and multicultural studies in the Department of Human Development and Family Science, and Joy Roos, Ph.D. student in the Department of Human Development and Family Science, are both working on two separate projects that received the grant.

One project that Roos and Carlo are working on is to research MU student experiences of discrimination and how these experiences shape prosocial behaviors, or helping behaviors.

“In the broader context of interpersonal relationships between races and between ethnic groups, prosocial behaviors are really important, because it is a marker of the degree to which we are willing to interact with each other in very positive ways,” Carlo said.

The research will also look at how discrimination affects one’s mental health and how one views other’s experiences of discrimination.

“We don't have that kind of information for students here at Mizzou,” Carlo said. “So we really believe that not only is the data going to be useful to disseminate widely, you know, nationally, but we also believe that the data that we gather will be also be of use to hopefully the university community and administrators.”

While Roos is a principal investigator on this research, her role on the other grant project is a research assistant.

“I have a very applied background, so this felt like a really great opportunity to marry this basic research on prosocial behaviors and the things I'm interested in, but also looking at how this can help the culture at Mizzou,” Roos said. “I think the IDE center is working so hard to really improve that culture, and I was just very impressed that they're taking upon this effort for the campus.”

The other project that the two are working on is three-year, federally-funded research into how factors in early childhood may place children at risk for having more difficult parent-child relationships.

The data for this research has already been collected, and now the project involves analyzing tapes of interactions between mothers and children from low-income African American, Latino and white families. The grant allows the research team to train MU students of color to transcribe and code the recorded footage.

“The reason we received the IDE grant is because we are recruiting and training undergraduate students of color to learn how to become junior scientists and hopefully get them interested in pursuing science and research,” Carlo said. “Hopefully, in the end, then they themselves will have an opportunity to do a conference presentation, develop their own paper or do their own analysis with a small part of the data.”

These two projects demonstrate the kind of effects that the IDE Excellence Grants can have, Carlo said.

“You get a sense from these two projects about the kind of wide-ranging, positive impacts that this kind of program can have on everything from creating new exciting opportunities for students to learn, to creating new knowledge and understanding about important social community issues, to helping people with regards to career and professional development,” Carlo said.

The grants also show a commitment to the culture at MU, Roos said.

“I think this has kind of set a precedent for the culture on campus that these things are important, and that we're going to promote them, and we're going to give resources for people who are interested in these things, and that culture matters,” Roos said.

Edited by Emily Wolf | ewolf@themaneater.com

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